In honor of my 23rd anniversary of competing at Miss America, I am excited to share this news. I did not EVER think I would be saying this, but after a great deal of prayerful consideration, I have decided to compete in the MRS. South Carolina pageant next month!
The pageant will be held in Mooresville, North Carolina (in conjunction with Mrs. NC) on October 18th, and I will compete as “Mrs. Greenville.” The winner will compete next year in the Mrs. America pageant, a competition that celebrates married women and families. There are so many women I admire who have held this title, beginning many years ago with my dance teacher and mentor (and former Miss SC) Pamela Inabinet Wilkes...all the way to the current Mrs. South Carolina, Meredith Kirk.
After so many years of "pageant retirement" I can't even begin to tell you what a frightening and intimidating undertaking this is, and given the very high risk of embarrassing myself (not to mention my family), I had to give this a great deal of thought to be sure that I had excellent reasons for participating.
Hopefully, you all may know that raising awareness about the dangers of Iron Deficiency Anemia is very important to me. I want and need to reach the nearly 50% (!) of women who have anemia, many of whom are undiagnosed, and help EDUCATE them through my Get Your Iron Up campaign and getyourironup.com website. My volunteer involvement with the Iron Disorders Institute has been such a blessing in my own life, and it's on my heart and so clear to me that this is my mission...no one else is out there speaking for or to these women. They are suffering miserable, debilitating symptoms and some are just a click away from a heart attack, like I was, and don't even know it. This is one reason that I want to compete.
I have also adopted a new motto as I approach my 50th birthday in January. They say that 30 is the new 20 and 40 is the new 30...well, I've decided that "50 is the new me!" (50isthenewme.com) I'm changing my habits and doing the things I've always wanted to do like committing to a fitness routine, eating healthier, setting new goals, etc. I want to MOTIVATE others to see that it's never too late to feel great and look your best and live a healthy, balanced life. To me, it's all about embracing your age and starting to live again! Instead of dreading turning 50 I am now looking forward to it. This is another reason that I want to compete.
Last but certainly not least, I want to show my love for my husband and our 21 years of marriage. I want to show my appreciation for my dear parents who have been with me every step of the way, through thick and thin. I also want to inspire my boys and walk the walk that I talk every single day. I always tell them that they can accomplish anything if they set goals, stay focused, work hard and never, ever give up. I want to DEMONSTRATE this and show them that I am more than the mom who volunteers for everything and makes candles! They have already gotten a huge kick out of making me join them on the bench press for weightlifting! Haha! They are witnessing the positive changes in me and they are in this with me for sure. This is perhaps the most important reason that I want to compete.
I am so appreciative to the friends and acquaintances who encourage me every single day through Facebook, text messages, emails, phone calls and of course in person. I can’t tell you how many kind souls have suggested, even urged, that I do this and it has taken many years for me to come to this decision. I always loved competing, representing a great cause and having the opportunity to speak out about important issues, but now it’s for a whole new set of reasons…and it feels really good! It’s now or never, so here goes! I would love for you all to come along with me on this journey.
I would LOVE to thank my "partners" and I will start with Pilates Moves and Jennifer Hobbs Mathews! Jennifer is helping me get myself into shape and I will be forever grateful! I have never felt better in my entire life! I would also like to thank CertaPro Painters of Greenville, East andPam J Knauss-Parise and Linda Kitchen Black, owner of The Clean Advantage and the soon-to-open Black Door on Rushmore, Gifts & Home Decor! Love you all -- I couldn't do it without you!